On November 11, 2019 I posted a blog entry which described the model railroad that I constructed in the basement of the last home we lived in. It is found among my other Model Railroading posts. In that post I described lessons learned from constructing and operating WCR v1 and I was determined to learn from those lessons.
The house we have lived in since our move in 2015 had a professionally finished basement which included a room that the previous owner had used for a home theatre. This room is ideal for a small-to-medium size HO scale model railroad. It measures approximately 5.5 metres (18 ft.) by 4 metres (13 ft.) with a 2.4 metre (8 ft.) high ceiling.
This house has four bedrooms, two of which are in the basement. My wife and I agreed when we purchased the house that we only needed one guest bedroom in the basement, so I converted the largest of the two basement bedrooms into a workshop. I had the carpet removed in that room and replaced with a hard floor, so it is much easier to clean and to mop up spills of glue, paint, etc. By having a separate workshop, I avoid creating dust in the model railroad room from cutting, filing or sanding wood.
My plan was to create a model railroad which would be affixed to two walls with a long peninsula extending into the middle of the room. I would use steel Rubbermaid Twin Track Shelf Brackets which slot into Twin Track uprights mounted to the walls. Each of these brackets is 61 cm (24 in.) long and rated to hold 125 kg (275 lbs.). This avoided having any supports extending to the floor, except under the peninsula.
|Note the slotted uprights, the white shelf supports and the wood framing. The first piece of Masonite can be seen screwed to the wood framing.|
I wanted very even and indirect lighting that would not shine in a viewer’s eyes. Finally, I wanted to have a backdrop with gentle curves around the corners of the room as well as a cove between the backdrop and a false ceiling that would be part of the lighting apparatus.
The era of my model railroad would be 1950, the season would be fall and the geographic area would be the Columbia Valley of British Columbia.
The project started with determining the height of the track. It would be 48 inches above the floor, with negligible grade. I mounted the vertical steel supports on the wall, ensuring that these were all screwed into the wooden studs. I then screwed a simple framework of 1x2 lumber onto which would be fastened the 1/8-in. Masonite backdrop.
To support the lighting, I again used the steel shelf brackets, this time 30 cm long (12 in.) which also mount in the Twin Track uprights which extend high enough up the wall. Using a very simple lightweight design of ¼ in. plywood braced with 1x2 lumber I made what is effectively a shelf which sits on top of the upper shelf brackets. Underneath the shelf brackets is a 1/8 in. Masonite false ceiling intended for the upper reaches of the curved and coved backdrop.
|the brackets holding the lighting shelf|
There is room in front of the brackets and false ceiling to mount fluorescent strip lighting. As the lighting is mounted at the front it is hidden by the valence which is 46 cm (18 in) deep. This creates even, bright, indirect light.
|the false ceiling and the florescent strip lighting|
The valence is made of 1/8 Masonite in 91 cm (3 ft.) panels, each of which is independent of its neighbours and can be lifted to either access the lighting or when working on the backdrop.